Women and youths can play a significant role in climate action by taking a variety of actions that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainability.
The dialogue on climate adaptation provided a platform for participants to share their knowledge, skills and ideas on how to address the impacts of climate change in their communities. The dialogues raised awareness among young people and women about the impacts of climate change and the need for adaptation measures.
Cameroon is one of the countries in Africa most affected by climate change. The country has experienced an increase in temperature, erratic rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events such as floods, landslides, and droughts. These changes have had a significant impact on the country’s agriculture, water resources, human health, infrastructure, and biodiversity, which are critical for the livelihoods of many Cameroonians, especially women and youths. Thus, climate change adaptation should be Cameroon’s priority given the negative effect on the vulnerable populations and worsening poverty. Investing in adaptation measures can help build resilience and offer economic benefits to the country but dialogue on climate change adaptation is not given the attention it deserves.
In Cameroon, women are the most affected by climate change. This is because women are often responsible for food production, water collection, and other activities that are affected by climate change. Similarly, young people will have to live with the long-term consequences of climate change, making it crucial for them to be involved in the dialogue and subsequent advocacy on adaptation. Unfortunately, these two groups of people lack a platform to share their challenges and experiences on adaptation in the country.
Nexus Between Climate Change and Development
There is a nexus between climate change and development because climate change has the potential to significantly impact development outcomes, such as poverty reduction, economic growth, and social well-being. Climate change can exacerbate existing development challenges, such as food and water insecurity, health risks, and infrastructure damage. It can also create new challenges that hinder development progress, such as increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and loss of biodiversity.
At the same time, development activities can contribute to climate change by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and land-use change. For example, industrialization, urbanization, and transportation activities can emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, while agricultural practices can contribute to deforestation and soil degradation.
Therefore, addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development are closely interlinked and require a coordinated approach. This can involve integrating climate change considerations into development planning and implementation, promoting low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathways, and supporting vulnerable communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Addressing the nexus between climate change and development requires a holistic approach that recognizes the complex interconnections between social, economic, and environmental factors, and the need for coordinated action across different sectors and stakeholders.
- Empowering youth and women: The dialogues will provide a platform for young people and women to share their experiences, knowledge, and ideas on climate adaptation leading to action.
- Enhancing participation: By involving youth and women in the dialogue process, the dialogues aim to enhance their participation in decision-making processes related to climate change adaptation.
- Building resilience: The dialogues aim to build resilience among communities by identifying and addressing the challenges faced by youth and women in adapting to climate change.
Impacts of Climate Change on Women and Youths: Mitigation Strategies, Adaptation and Financing Options
According to Dr Suiven T. Johnpaul, Youth and women’s dimensions of climate vulnerability arise from differential access to the social and environmental resources required for adaptation. The climate crisis is not gender-neutral. Youth and women experience the greatest impacts of climate change which amplifies existing gender inequalities and poses unique threats to their livelihood, health and safety.
Women and youth are often more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their limited access to resources, lack of decision-making power, and social and cultural norms that restrict their mobility and participation in public life. Climate change is a threat multiplier which escalates social, political and economic tension in fragile and conflict-affected settings. They also increase threats to women and youths such as gender-based violence, human trafficking, child marriages and other forms of violence.
In Cameroon, mitigation strategies could include promoting climate knowledge and discussion amongst women and youths, renewable energy, improving energy efficiency in buildings and transportation, and reducing deforestation and forest degradation. These strategies would not only help mitigate climate change but would also create job opportunities for women and youth in the renewable energy sector.
Adaptation measures involve taking actions to help communities cope with the impacts of climate change. In Cameroon, adaptation measures should include building climate-resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable agriculture and water management practices, and developing early warning systems for natural disasters. These measures would help protect women and youth from the negative impacts of climate change, such as droughts, floods, and other natural disasters.
Financing options are critical for implementing mitigation and adaptation measures. Cameroon could access financing from international climate funds such as the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. These funds could be used to support projects that promote renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and climate-resilient infrastructure. Cameroon could also use domestic financing mechanisms, such as carbon taxes and climate bonds, to mobilize resources for climate action.
Indigenous Adaptation to Climate Change: Northwest Region of Cameroon
Dr. Moye E. Kongnso in his presentation states that the Northwest region of Cameroon is home to many indigenous communities who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their reliance on natural resources for their livelihoods. Indigenous peoples have unique knowledge and practices that have enabled them to adapt to changing environmental conditions for generations.
However, climate change is posing new challenges that require innovative adaptation strategies.
Indigenous communities are facing longer dry seasons, erratic rainfall patterns, and increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as floods and landslides. These impacts are affecting their food security, water availability, and overall well-being. In response, indigenous communities are implementing various adaptation strategies.
One adaptation strategy is the diversification of livelihoods. Indigenous communities in the Northwest region are diversifying their income sources by engaging in non-farm activities such as crafts and beekeeping. This helps reduce their reliance on climate-sensitive activities such as farming, which is becoming increasingly unpredictable due to climate change.
Another adaptation strategy is the revival of traditional knowledge and practices. Indigenous communities are using their traditional knowledge of climate patterns and weather forecasting to adapt to changing environmental conditions. For example, some communities are reviving traditional water conservation practices such as building small dams and ponds to collect rainwater for irrigation during dry periods.
Additionally, indigenous communities are collaborating with local and national government agencies to implement adaptation measures. For example, the Cameroon government, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program has implemented a project to enhance the climate resilience of indigenous communities in the Northwest region. The project focuses on capacity building, strengthening institutions, and promoting sustainable land management practices.
However, despite these adaptation strategies, indigenous communities in the Northwest region of Cameroon still face significant challenges in adapting to climate change. Limited access to information, resources and decision-making power, as well as discrimination and marginalization, are some of the barriers that hinder their adaptation efforts.
Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation by Women and Youths
In assessing the current climate situations based on perceptions and belief systems, it was realized that locals have basic knowledge of climate change though few others still believe it to be witchcraft or God’s anger.
Climate change has several risks it poses to these people concerning health, water resources, agriculture, energy and many others. Changes in climatic conditions have led to low crop production, migration, increase social ills and even increased farmer-grazer conflicts due to declining water levels.
Some of the adaptation strategies implemented by the people include the construction of boreholes, sourcing new springs, protection of water catchments and planting of environmentally friendly trees amongst others.
So far, the best workable adaptation and mitigation options in this area are the protection of water catchment, deterring cattle from passing throw catchment areas through bee-farming, planting of environmentally friendly trees, agroforestry and dissemination of knowledge (use of indigenous and local knowledge).